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Statement of Principles for the Syria Small Group

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The following statement of principles is meant to serve as a set of guidelines for the members of the Syria Small Group. It outlines a set of objectives for the Group members to pursue collectively and individually. It should guide interactions between members of the Small Group and other foreign interlocutors, particulary Russia, but also the United Nations and others. It is not intended to be a public document.

Principles for a resolution of the Syria conflict

1. As a general set of policy goals, and as necessary conditions for normal relations with the Syrian governement that results from the UNSCR-2254 political process, the members of the Small Group seek a Syrian governement that :
a) Neither sponsors terrorists nor provide safe haven for them;
b) Is free from weapons of mass destruction and verifiably ends its weapons of mass destruction programs;
c) Servers its ties with the Iranian regime and its militant proxies;
d) Does not threaten its neighbors;
e) Creates conditions for refugees to return in a safe, voluntary, and dignified manner to their homes with UN involvment; and
f) Both pursues and prosecutes war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity, or cooperate withe the international community in doing so.

2. The political process under UN auspices pursuant UNSCR 2254, resulting in constitutional reform and UN-supervised elections. The political process should result in accountability, transitional justice, and genuine national reconciliation.

3. There will be no international reconstruction assistance in Syrian-governement-held areas absent a credible political process that leads unalterably to constitutional reform and UN-supervised elections, to the satisfaction of potential donor countries.

4. A constitutionnal committee under UN auspices and control is the appropriate mechanism to discuss constitutional reform and elections and to arrive at a political resolution for Syria. The UN should convene the constitutional committee as soon as possible.

5. Recognizing that the constitutional committee must remain the UN’s exclusive purview, the Group encourages the UN to incorporate all Syrian political forces needed to effect and implement constitutional reform and UN-supervised elections, particularly the Syrian governement, representatives from northeast Syria, and Syrian opposition figures willing to adhere to a solution in accordance with the principles described here.

6. The enduring defeat of ISIS and stabilization support to areas liberated by the Global Coalition and its partners are necessary components of a political resolution in Syria.

7. Any effort to mitigate the humanitarian crisis, particularly along the borders with Jordan, the Golan, and Turkey, consistent with the principles above, should be encouraged.

8. The Small Group will take all necessary steps to deter the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

In addition, the following principles should guide members of the Syria Small Group in their engagement with the UN on the subject of constitutional reforms and the conduct of the UN-supervised elections. There are to be considered recommendations to the UN Special Envoy in his role overseeing the constitutional process.

Constitutional Reform:

1. The President’s authorities should be modified to achieve greater balance of powers and guarantees of independence for other central and regional institutions of governement.

2. The governement should be led by a Prime Minister with strenghened authorities and clear delineation of authorities between the Prime Minister and the President. The Prime Minister and governement should be appointed in a manner which does not depend on approval by the President.

3. The judiciary should enjoy greater independence.

4. Civilian oversight of a reformed security sector should be implemented, with clearly defined powers.

5. Authority should be explicitly devolved and decentralized, including on a regional basis.

6. Restriction on candidacy for elections should be removed — in particular to enable refugees, dispaced persons and those who heve been exiled from Syria to stand, including for Presidency.

UN-Supervised Elections

1. A transitional electoral framework that meeets international standards enabling fair and transparent participation, including a balanced and professional electoral management body, is needed.

2. The UN should develop a complet and current voter register according to agreed criteria that enable all Syrians to participate in elections and referenda.

3. A robust UN supervision mandate is needed, provided by a dedicated UNSC resolution, to enable the UN to ensure full responsability in the conduct of free and fair elections in Syria via a) the establishment of the electoral management body b) good offices and political support in the issuance of electoral legislation c) independly confirming that transitional electoral legislation and regulatory framework meet the highest international standards d) a role in day-to-day operations of transitional electoral management body and the handling of electoral complaints, e) a role in executive decision-making of the electoral management body and handling of electoral complaints, and f) endorsement of the results of elections and referenda during the transition, if the elections heve met the required standards.

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